Is Your VW Timing Chain Tensioner Failing?

Do you have a 2008-2013 Volkswagen with a 2.0L gasoline engine? If so, your timing chain tensioner may be failing. It’s a common problem in these Volkswagens, and it’s something that’s best addressed sooner than later.

The timing chain is a part of the engine that ensures that the valves and pistons operate in sync. It’s widely believed that the timing chain installed in 2008-2013 VWs is defective and prone to premature failure. In fact, there's a possibility that Volkswagen will issue a recall sometime in the near future.

Passat tensioner

The 2011 VW Passat is one of the cars affected by this issue, via M 93

Is your timing chain tensioner on its way out? Let’s find out.

Symptoms of a Failing Timing Chain Tensioner

First, take a look at this list of symptoms and see if you’re experiencing any of them:

  • A rattling noise coming from the engine at startup
  • Engine won't start or dies while driving and then won't start
  • Check engine code for misfires

Do any of these symptoms apply to you? If so, it’s time to confirm that you’ve got a failing timing chain tensioner.

How to Diagnose a Failing Timing Chain Tensioner

If not fixed in time, a failing or broken timing chain will cause total failure of the engine, which you’ll need to replace. Diagnosis depends on what your vehicle is experiencing:

  • If you have a rattle: Put your ear up to the timing cover, upper or lower, and listen for the noise
  • If you have a check engine light: Put the engine in base time to make sure that the crankshaft and two cams are lined up properly mechanically
  • In extreme cases: Take off the oil fill cap and have a second person crank the car. Look down at the camshafts to see if they're even turning. Sometimes, they'll be turning but will be turning at the wrong time.

Replacing Your Timing Chain Tensioner With an OEM Part

Before you replace your timing chain tensioner (or have a shop do it for you), get a replacement part. We strongly suggest buying an OEM timing chain tensioner from an authorized VW parts department because you’ll have the peace of mind that the replacement part is made specifically for your vehicle and designed to perform optimally.

We advise against waiting for Volkswagen to issue a recall to replace your timing chain tensioner because it could fail before then and destroy your engine. If you want a refund for your replacement, contact McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP -- the law agency that's working on a class action lawsuit against Volkswagen -- here and tell them about your failing or failed timing chain tensioner.